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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Editorial: Priced out of parking

    Every day, students and employees who drive to the UA take part in a thrilling and dangerous game. Finding an open parking spot in the overcrowded surface lots and garages across campus requires keen powers of observation, lightning-quick reflexes and a predatory instinct keener than a jungle cat. If you’re a participant in the daily transportation tussle, you may want to hone those skills: Next semester, the great game of parking on campus will be a little bit more difficult.

    Last week, Parking and Transportation Services broke bad news for UA commuters: Next fall, parking permits will cost more, and fewer spots will be available. All permit prices are set to rise by $24, meaning the cost of a parking spot will range from a cool $303 for a Zone 1 surface lot space to a whopping $518 for a permit in a covered garage. Meanwhile, construction of new residence halls along East Sixth Street and the expansion of the Student Recreation Center will temporarily obliterate about 1,200 parking spots, with only an estimated 1,000 of them to be ultimately replaced by new parking capacity. PTS says that the net loss of 200 spaces will be minimal – but minimal losses every year are starting to add up to create a big parking problem.

    A shrinking supply of parking spots isn’t a new phenomenon at the UA. According to PTS director Patrick Kass, in an interview conducted last week by the Arizona Daily Wildcat, PTS has lost a total of 2,723 spaces over the past eight years. Over the same period, the population of students and employees on campus grew by 3,375 people, according to data from the Office of Institutional Research and Planning Support. The problem is simple – parking capacity just isn’t growing as fast as the university population. A shrinking supply of spots may be little more than an expensive annoyance for most, but rising prices can have a pernicious effect on the welfare – and education – of some students. The cost of a $518 garage permit is now equal to over 20 percent of the cost of in-state tuition, a significant financial barrier to transportation.

    For many commuter students, a parking permit is an essential component of access to the university. Pricing them out of a parking spot has the potential to price them out of higher education altogether. And although students keep a close watch on changes in tuition rates, the price of accoutrements like parking gets less attention. Unfortunately, it’s rising just as fast.

    PTS currently manages 17,000 parking spaces serving a campus population of more than 50,000. That simply isn’t enough. Although they hope to mitigate parking problems by encouraging students to use alternate services like CatTran, carpooling and public buses, these programs will continue to fall short. Students and employees will keep driving their own cars to campus, and PTS should primarily be investing in more parking capacity across campus. Alternative transportation is trendy, green and easy, but only an increase in the number of parking spots on campus can end the daily parking prowl once and for all.

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